Southern Football League
Together with the Isthmian League and the Northern Premier League it forms levels seven and eight of the English football league system. The structure of the Southern League has changed several times since its formation in 1894, the Premier Division is at step 3 of the National League System, and is a feeder division, mainly to the National League South but also to the National League North. Feeding the Premier Division are two divisions, Division One South & West and Division One Central, which are at step 4 of the NLS. These divisions are in turn fed by various regional leagues, professional football developed more slowly in Southern England than in Northern England. Additionally, a league, the Southern Alliance was founded in 1892, with seven clubs from the region. Nonetheless, another attempt was made to form the Southern League, a competition for both professional and amateur clubs was founded in 1894 under the initiative of Millwall Athletic. Initially only one division was envisaged, but such was the enthusiasm, the sixteen founder members were, 2nd Scots Guards withdrew before the first season started and were replaced by Southampton St Marys. Woolwich Arsenal attempted to add their reserve side to the second division, the Southern League soon became the dominant competition below The Football League in Southern and Central England. By the turn of the century a few of the Southern League sides began to rival the Football League in the FA Cup, Two Southern League clubs, Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur reached the final of the FA Cup around the turn of the century. Tottenham Hotspur are the club from below the 2nd level of English football to have won the FA Cup. The champions of the two leagues during this period met in the annual Charity Shield, in 1907, it accepted Bradford Park Avenue, a northern club, as a member, reflecting its senior position at the time. In 1920, virtually the top division of the Southern League was absorbed by the Football League to become that leagues new Third Division. A year later the Third Division was expanded and regionalised, the Third Division clubs from the previous season became the Third Division South, with the addition of the Third Division North. Of the original members, six – Gillingham, Luton Town, Millwall, Reading. For the next six decades, the Football League and Southern League would exchange a number of clubs as a result of the older leagues re-election process. From 1920 onward, the Southern Leagues status as a league was firmly established. In turn, the APL would eventually succeed in becoming a feeder to the Football League, the league lost more of its top clubs in 2004 when the Conference added two regional divisions below the existing National League, the Conference South and Conference North. The first sponsor of the Southern League was Beazer Homes who sponsored the league from 1987–96, the sponsors after Beazer Homes to the present day are, Dr Martens, British Gas, Zamaretto, Evo-Stik, Calor Gas, and Evo-Stik
Cambridge United F.C.
Cambridge United Football Club is a professional association football club based in the city of Cambridge, Cambridgeshire. The club currently plays in League Two, the tier of the English league system. The club was founded in 1912 as Abbey United, and took the name Cambridge United in 1951 and it first competed in the Football League in 1970, staying there for 35 seasons until relegation in 2005. Football League status was regained in 2014, after nine seasons in the Conference, Cambridge United have had two spells in the leagues second tier, from 1978 to 1984, and again from 1991 to 1993. They reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup twice and Football League Cup once during the early 1990s, the club is based at the Abbey Stadium on Newmarket Road, approximately 1.86 miles east of Cambridge city centre. The stadium has a capacity of 8,127, made up of terracing, the club had close links with Cambridge Regional College, a team formed in 2006 as a de facto reserve team, however, CRC folded at the end of the 2013–14 season. The club was founded in 1912 as Abbey United, named after the Abbey district of Cambridge, a club called Cambridge United existed in Cambridge from 1909, but it was not linked to the club that exists today. The club played in amateur leagues for many of its early years. In 1949 the club turned professional, and changed its name to Cambridge United in 1951 and they played in the Eastern Counties League until finishing as runners-up in 1957–58, which saw them promoted to the Southern League. Three years later, Cambridge United reached the Premier Division of the Southern League, after election to the Football League in 1970, to replace Bradford, the club was promoted from the Fourth Division after three seasons, but went straight back down. Following the appointment of Ron Atkinson as manager, Cambridge won successive promotions took them into the Second Division in 1978 – a mere eight years after joining the Football League. Atkinson had gone to West Bromwich Albion, a First Division club, in January 1978, and was succeeded by John Docherty, Cambridge peaked at eighth place in the Second Division in 1980. However, a season in 1983–84 was followed by a further relegation in 1984–85. They had to apply for re-election in their first season back in the Fourth Division, the early 1990s was the Us most successful period. Dion Dublin scored the goal in a game against Chesterfield. Under Beck, United gained promotion from the Fourth Division and had reached the FA Cup quarter finals in 1990, and reached them again a year later. United reached the play-offs in 1992, after finishing 5th in the Second Division and this was the clubs highest final league placing to date. The following season the club sacked John Beck and were relegated from the new First Division, further relegation followed two seasons later
Bedford Town F.C.
Bedford Town Football Club is a football club based in the Borough of Bedford, England. The club are members of the Southern League Division One Central and play at the Eyrie in Cardington. They are full members of the Football Association and affiliated to the Bedfordshire County Football Association, a Bedford Town Football Club was in existence by 1884, although it changed its name to Bedford Association in 1887. As there were no leagues at the time, the club played matches in cups, including the Kettering Charity Cup. The name Bedford Town reappeared in 1894 when Swifts, a club founded in 1890, were renamed and they absorbed Bedford Rovers in 1896, and although local leagues had been formed, the club continued to play only cup matches and friendlies. However, the club disappeared around the turn of the century, on 31 July 1908 a new Bedford Town was formed at the Association Rooms on Harpur Street. They joined Division One of the Northamptonshire League, finishing bottom of the table in their first two seasons, but avoiding relegation to Division Two. They went on to finish as runners-up for three seasons between 1911–12 and 1913–14 before the league closed down due to World War I. They also won the Northamptonshire Senior Cup in 1912–13, after the war the club continued in the league, finishing as Division One runners-up in 1929–30 before winning the title in 1930–31. The following season saw them finish in place again, after which they won back-to-back titles in 1932–33. The league was renamed the United Counties League, with Bedford finishing as runners-up in 1934–35 and reaching the first round of the FA Cup for the first time. They finished as runners-up again in 1936–37, remaining in the league until World War II, in 1945 Bedford joined the Southern League. They reached the first round of the FA Cup several times in the early 1950s, losing 2–0 at Swindon Town in 1951–52, 4–0 at Weymouth in 1953–54 and 2–0 at Dorchester Town in 1954–55. In 1955 they applied for election to the Football League after finishing eighteenth in the Southern League, the 1955–56 season saw them reach the first round of the FA Cup again, and for the first time they progressed to the next round after beating Leyton 3–0. The second round saw them defeat Football League opposition for the first time as they won 3–2 against Watford, the first match at Highbury ended 2–2, with Arsenal winning the replay 2–1. They applied for election to the Football League again following a third-place finish in the Southern League, in the following season the club again beat Football League opposition in the FA Cup, defeating Norwich City 4–2 at Carrow Road before losing 1–0 at Reading. They finished as runners-up in both 1956–57 and 1957–58, again applying unsuccessfully for Football League membership, although they received one vote in 1957, despite winning their division, they failed to receive a single vote in the 1959 Football League elections. The following season saw further league re-organisation, with Bedford placed in the new Premier Division, however, the mid-1960s was an extremely successful period for the club in the cup, in 1962–63 they reached the second round where they were again beaten by Gillingham
Cheltenham Town F.C.
Cheltenham Town Football Club /ˈtʃɛltnəm ˈtaʊn/ is a professional association football club based in the town of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. The team compete in League Two, the tier of English football. Their nickname is The Robins, and the club is affiliated to the Gloucestershire County FA. Promoted to The Football League as Conference Premier champions in 1999, Cheltenham have played as high as League One and their best FA Cup run saw them reach the last 16 in 2002. The last piece of silverware won by the club was the National League title in 2015–2016 and its league status was lost with relegation in 2015, only for the team to return, as champions, a year later. Cheltenham has a history of prior to The Robins. In 1849, the first use of three referees in a match, two in field and one in tribune, was recorded in the town. However, the club was founded in 1887 by Albert Close White. The club spent its first three decades in local football, notable players from those days include cricketers Gilbert Jessop and brothers Charles Barnett and Edgar Barnett. In the early 1930s the club turned professional and joined the Birmingham Combination before joining the Southern League in 1935 and they won promotion to the Alliance Premier League in 1985, but were relegated seven years later. They were promoted back to the Conference in 1997 and two years later gained promotion to the Football League, after two mid-table finishes in Division Three they won via the playoffs and were promoted to Division Two. The appointment of Steve Cotterill as manager during the 1996–97 was the start of a period of success at the club resulted in Cotterill being their most successful manager. In 1997–98, Cheltenham finished runners-up in the Conference and were close to champions Halifax Town until the end of April 1998 and they secured a place at Wembley in the FA Trophy final, beating Southport 1–0 in front of a crowd of 27,000. In 1998–99 Cheltenham secured the Conference title and entry to the Football League, after two mid-table finishes in Division Three, Cheltenham finally won promotion to Division Two at the end of the 2001–02 season. Shortly after winning promotion, Cotterill left Cheltenham to join Stoke City as their manager, Cheltenham replaced Cotterill with first-team coach Graham Allner who had won the Conference championship with Kidderminster Harriers in 1994. Allner and assistant manager Mike Davis, who was assistant to Cotterill, were sacked in January 2003, after six months in the job. Cheltenham turned to Bobby Gould, one of the most experienced managers in English football whose exploits include an FA Cup victory with Wimbledon in 1988. Cheltenham continued to struggle, and defeat in their game of the season condemned the club to relegation back to Division Three after just one season
Guildford City F.C.
Guildford City Football Club is a football club based in Guildford, Surrey, England. The club was established in 1921, folded in 1974 and were reformed in 1996, Guildford City play in the Combined Counties League Premier Division. The first club in the town was amateur side Guildford, formed in 1877 and they played home matches at the Woodbridge Road Sports Ground. A successful start led to a number of people mooting a new professional club, in May 1921 they were accepted into the Southern League, the equivalent of the National League today. At the same land had been purchased in Joseph’s Road. Playing in green and white the hosts won 2–0 with a crowd of over 5,000 spectators, in 1927 Guildford became a diocese and the Guildford Cathedral was built. It was believed that Guildford would become a city so the club changed its name, at this time they also changed the colours to red and white stripes. Despite excellent gates the club was facing a crisis at the end of the season – this was to be a recurrent theme throughout the club’s history. At the start of the 1936–37 season the club made the decision to turn full-time professional. That season they finished 4th but next season things got even better, in 1937–38 City beat Reading in the FA Cup but in the league they won 22 of their 34 games to finish as Champions for the first time. That feat was repeated the following year, with City finishing runners-up to Colchester United by one point. In the league game at home to Colchester on Easter Monday City won 3–1 in front of the largest crowd ever for a game at Joseph’s Road 9,443. Earlier that season City had attracted a bigger crowd to Joseph’s Road for an FA Cup 1st Round Replay against local rivals Aldershot. 9,932 people saw City lose a nail-biting game 4–3 and this successful period was brought to a premature conclusion by the outbreak of the Second World War. The ground had been used by the Army during the War, in 1946–47 City re-entered the Southern League – this time as a part-time club. In 1950–51 the team reached the final of the Southern League Cup for the first time, in the 1951–52 season the City undertook their longest trip when they when they travelled to Gateshead in the 2nd Round of the FA Cup. An estimated 5,000 supporters made the trip to the North East of England in December. A15,000 crowd saw City dominate the game but lose 2–0, in debt again, City sold Jimmy Langley to Leeds for £2,000
Rugby Town F.C.
Rugby Town Football Club is a football club based in Rugby, Warwickshire, which plays in the Northern Premier League Division One South. It is nicknamed The Valley, and plays its matches at Butlin Road. It was originally named New Bilton Juniors and renamed four times, first, in 1956, to Valley Sports. The next time was in 1971 to Valley Sports Rugby, or simply VS Rugby, then in 2000 to Rugby United, formed by Keith Coughlan and under the name of New Bilton Juniors, the Valley played its first friendly match in 1955. In 1956, the club was renamed for the first time, to Valley Sports and entered the Rugby, the club progressed to the Coventry and North Warwickshire Football League in 1963, and to the United Counties League in 1969 changing the name to VS Rugby. VS Rugby moved into their own ground, Butlin Road, in 1973 the first competitive game there being a 0-0 draw against Burton park Wanderers in The United Counties league. In 1975 the club was invited to join the West Midlands League, in 1981, the Valleys most successful manager, Jimmy Knox, took over. He had previously managed the then Rugby Town and AP Leamington. Knox turned around the clubs fortunes dramatically and in1983 they won The FA Vase and they also had memorable cup ties against Northampton Town, Bristol City, and Leyton Orient. A group of supporters that included founder Keith Coughlan, however, rescued the club, the same season the club also again reached the first round of The FA Cup losing at home to Brentford. VS Rugby changed its name to Rugby United in 2000, Valley came close to promotion twice under manager Dave Stringer in the 2012–13 and 2013–14 seasons. In 2012–13 they missed out on the title on the day before losing to Biggleswade Town in the play-off final at Butlin Road. The following season saw Valley once again in contention for the title on the day only to fail to secure top spot. Promotion hopes once again ended in the play-offs after a defeat to Slough Town over two legs in the semi-final, the 2014/15 season was less successful for Valley with the club failing to make the play-offs after an inconsistent season. At the end of the campaign, Rugby Town parted company with manager Dave Stringer, for the first time in the clubs history, Rugby Town were moved into the Northern Premier League system for the 2015–16 season. Stringers replacement, former Rushden & Diamonds midfielder Gary Mills, tendered his resignation early into the season after a start and was replaced by ex-Tamworth boss Dale Belford. Now, approximately 2,800 spectators are able to be accommodated under cover and 740 of these can also be seated, the main stand, which holds 500 fans and also includes the dressing rooms. New facilities under the also include 4 changing rooms, referees room, male, female and disabled toilets
Kettering Town F.C.
Kettering Town Football Club is an English football club originating in Kettering, Northamptonshire but currently based in the town of Burton Latimer. The club participates in the Southern League Premier Division, the tier of English football. Kettering Town were originally formed in 1872, turning professional in 1891, the club graduated through twelve different leagues from 1892 until they became founding members of the Alliance Premier League in 1979. The club maintained its status in the top flight of football until the 2000–01 season. Many honours have found their way to Rockingham Road, winning the Midland Football League title in 1896 and 1900, the Southern League Championship was won on three occasions by the club, in 1928 and 1957 under Tommy Lawton and in 1973 under the guidance of Ron Atkinson. In the 1930s the club won the East Midlands League and in 1948 the Poppies became Birmingham League Champions, during the 1970s, Kettering Town sought election to the Football League, coming five votes short of election in 1974. The deal was brokered by chief executive and manager Derek Dougan, four days later, The Football Association ordered the club to remove the slogan, but Dougan changed the words on the shirts to Kettering T, and claimed that the T stood for Town. Nonetheless, the FA ordered the club to remove the words, shirt sponsorship was eventually permitted within the English game in 1977, although the ban on shirt sponsors in televised games wasnt lifted until 1983. Kettering are also the first ever British team to have their initials on their grounds floodlights, the club finished runners-up in the Football Conference in 1981,1989,1994 and 1998. The GMAC Cup was won in 1987 and the Poppies were runners-up in 1995, County competitions have been won regularly by Kettering Town, with the Northants Senior Cup won on 28 occasions and the Maunsell Cup 13 times. The FA Cup has brought success and publicity to Rockingham Road with the first round proper being reached on 41 occasions. During the 1994–95 season the club made their debut live on Sky TV in a first round tie against Plymouth Argyle, as of 2016 the Poppies had scored more goals than any other team in the FA Cups history, with 870 goals scored in 381 appearances. Wembley has been reached on two occasions before, the Poppies lost 2–0 to Stafford Rangers in the 1979 FA Trophy Final. More recently, the FA Trophy Final in 2000 saw the Poppies lose a closely fought final with Kingstonian 3–2, most recently, the club were narrowly relegated on the last day of the 2000–01 season which ended 30 years in the top flight of non-league football. The following season was a disappointment and the club, rarely out of the bottom three, were again demoted – this time to the Isthmian League. Carl Shutt left the club in April 2003 and Dominic Genovese, after a period as acting manager. After a poor run of results and a disappointing defeat to Boreham Wood in the FA Cup Dominic Genovese was replaced by former Northampton Town manager. Changes to the team were made and the finished the season on a 12-game unbeaten run
Worcester City F.C.
Worcester City Football Club is an English football club based in Worcester, Worcestershire. The club participates in the National League North, the tier of English football. Established in 1902, they have spent the majority of their history in non-league football and they currently play at Victoria Ground, home to Bromsgrove Sporting, after leaving St Georges Lane in 2013. Initially they played on Pitchcroft on an area called Severn Terrace. They played there until the start of the 1905 season and it was in 1905 that they reached the first round of the FA Cup, losing 6–0 at home to Watford. In 1924–25 they won the league for the first time, the club won back-to-back league titles in 1928–29 and 1929–30, also reaching the FA Cup first round in the former, losing 3–1 at Walsall. In 1938 they joined the Southern League, in 1940 they won the Southern League Cup beating Chelmsford 7–3 over two legs under the guidance of former Fulham F. C. legend Syd Gibbons. During World War II the club returned to the Birmingham & District League for two seasons, after the war Worcester rejoined the Southern League. In 1958–59 the club reached the first round of the FA Cup again, after beating Chelmsford City in a replay and then Millwall 5–2 in the second round, they were drawn against Liverpool. A 2–1 win saw Worcester qualify for the round against Sheffield United. They were defeated 2–0 in front of a home attendance of 17,042 at St Georges Lane. In 1973–74 the club were relegated to Division One North of the Southern League and they returned to the Premier Division as Division One champions in 1977, and in 1978–79 won the title. The following season they became members of the Alliance Premier League. However, they were relegated at the end of the 1984–85 season, the 1973–74 season saw City reach the quarter-final of the FA Trophy. They beat Taunton Town 1–0 away from home and then a 5–1 home win over Bletchley saw the club reach the third round. Having beaten Sandbach Ramblers 4–1, City progressed to the last eight where a 2–0 away defeat followed a draw against South Shields ended their cup run. In the 1978–79 season, Worcester reached the semi-finals after beating Cardiff City 3–2 in the quarters and they again played Shrewsbury, this time losing 2–0 away. The club remained in the Southern League Premier Division until 2004, in 2008 they were moved to the Conference South after no southern teams were relegated from the Conference National